Supporting feminine leadership can help create a kinder future

Feminine leadership is not just for women

Research on effective leadership underscores the need for approaches that align with feminine characteristics of empathy, support and community-building. These traits do not belong solely to women; they are inherent in all of us.

Employees feel seen and heard where they can learn and make mistakes without fear of blame. Other values include the prioritization of care, respect and co-operation above competition and an emphasis on honesty and accountability.

Feminine leadership encompasses the aspects of ourselves that have been pushed aside and devalued within conventionally male-dominant spaces. Recentring them can define a model of leadership embraced and practiced by all genders.

Leaders of the future

So, how do we get there?

Helping girls find their own unique voices and ways of leading, without conforming to narrowly defined leadership traits often modelled by men, can shape the next generation of leaders.

Organidations like Girls Inc. of York Region and Plan International Canada are providing girls and young women with opportunities to explore what being a leader means for them.

It is also critical for boys to appreciate their own inherent feminine qualities of empathy and care, helping them grow into men who value feminine qualities and who embrace following women and gender diverse leaders.

For organidations, it is not just about recruiting more women and gender diverse employees. It also means creating a workplace culture that truly embraces diversity and provides opportunities for growth.

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Women are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to accessing networking and mentorship opportunities. Being an ally means going beyond speaking up if you see something unfair. It is advocating for more advancement opportunities and getting directly involved in mentorship for women, especially for women of colour, women with disabilities and LGBTQ2S+ women.

Organisations must recognise the emotional work and leadership already being modelled by women. Evaluations and performance reviews should capture the full spectrum of what employees, especially women, bring to work and be tied to increased pay and leadership opportunities.

Without a shift to fully valuing the contributions of women, workplaces will continue to be labyrinths full of barriers, and the leadership gap will never close. Without understanding and embracing the importance of feminine qualities of care, empathy and collaboration in how we live, work and lead, the status quo will continue.

The current paradigm — a patriarchal leadership model that continues to value self-interest and competition over collective benefit and co-operation — just isn’t working for most people.

As we face the challenges of political division, social injustice, economic uncertainty and climate change, now is the time to recentre the feminine within and champion a different, kinder way to lead.